CHICKEN bosses have been roasted by members of Swindon’s Muslim community.

They say restaurant chain Nando’s has gone back on a promise to serve halal chicken in its new Orbital Centre restaurant, leaving customers with the long drive to alternative outlets in Oxford or Bristol.

Nando’s has apologised for the confusion, but said it already served halal meat in restaurants elsewhere.

Two petitions calling on the chain to change its mind have attracted around 500 signatures online.

The organiser of one petition, Eerum Nayani, said the firm had told members’ of the Muslim community last year the restaurant would serve halal meat, killed in line with Islamic animal slaughter techniques.

She added: “Currently, the nearest halal Nando’s are in Oxford or Bristol, so it is a bit of a trek for people.We were thrilled they were opening a halal branch to cater for Swindon’s diverse needs and being inclusive of the wider population's needs. So you can imagine the Muslim community’s disappointment when we all found out on the day it opened this was not to be the case and Nando’s has changed their mind without explaining why.

“There are some rumours that the reason for this change was due to rejection from locals for a halal branch. However, given that there is already a non-halal option for Nando’s in the town centre and other establishments such as Pizza Express and branches of Subway are using halal chicken without objection I don’t see why this would be the case.”

She added: "The halal chicken that Nando’s uses is prestunned and in line with the RSPCAs recommendation for humane animal slaughter. Other establishments such as pizza express, GBK and halal subway outlets use this form of halal chicken for part of their menu and as far as I know are being used by the wider community without objection."

In under a week, two petitions on websites and 38 Degrees have attracted over 500 signatures.

The 38 Degrees petition organiser Mrs Nayani added: “I’m not holding my breath they’ll change their mind.”

Organiser of the petition, Asghar Butt said: “The Muslim community in Swindon and nearby areas were longing for Nando’s to come to our town.

“But when the first Nando’s restaurant was opened in town centre a couple of years ago it turned out to be not offering halal chicken. A few months ago, we got to know that a new branch of restaurant was opening in Orbital Shopping Park, North Swindon, and there was a lot of talk in community that it would be halal.

“To our dismay, it was not the case and the new restaurant is also serving non-halal chicken.”

Nando’s apologised for the confusion, but said alternative Halal restaurants were open to diners in Oxford and Bristol.

However, speaking to BBC Wiltshire chicken petition Modassir Mushtaq rubbished the claims: “There were no ifs or buts. They clearly said it would be halal.”

The Adver has seen an image of a communication from Nina in Nando's customer team to Mr Mushtaq a year ago saying that the new Nando's was "currently set to be serving Halal chickern, so you won't be be needing that petition."